Now that all the schools have closed for the summer holidays, many families will be looking forward to a break with the kids here in the UK or abroad.
No matter where they choose to holiday, it’s important to protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays in order to prevent from sun burn and sun damage.
It’s very important that the right sunscreen for your skin type is purchased. Look for a high protection SPF (SPF 30 or more) to protect against UVB, and the UVA circle logo and/or 4 or 5 UVA stars to protect against UVA. If in doubt, check with a Pharmacist. Also, if you’re thinking about using last year’s left-over’s, please check expiry dates as sunscreens lose their potency over time. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
With the UK sweltering in unusually high temperatures, Dr Anjali Mahto, Consultant Dermatologist & British Skin Foundation spokesperson, wants to share the most common sunscreen mistakes and myths, so they can be avoided in future.
‘I can’t get sun damage on a cloudy summer day.’
Even if you can’t see any blue sky, a significant amount of UV rays can still get through the clouds, so it’s best to apply sunscreen if you’re out and about during the summer.
‘I can’t get sunburnt in the UK; the UV rays aren’t strong enough.’
Wrong! Always protect your skin even in the UK.
‘My sunscreen says it’s water resistant, so I don’t need to reapply regularly.’
Despite what the packaging promises, swimming, sweating, rubbing, or towelling down means you will end up removing the sunscreen from your body. Always reapply after sporting activity or at least every two hours.
‘My skin is only damaged if it turns red.’
Sunburn and skin peeling is the extreme end of skin damage from UV rays. When the skin ‘tans’ this is damaging your skin and putting you at risk of skin cancer in the future.
‘I can’t get sunburnt through windows.’
Wrong! UVA radiation can penetrate glass. This can be a car window, or even your windows at home. Be sure to protect your skin if you’re on long car journeys or spend a lot of time sat by sunny windows.
‘SPF25 is half the SPF protection of SPF50.’
SPF50 does not offer twice the protection as SPF25 even though it offers a higher level of protection, so don’t be fooled!
When applying sunscreen, there is a selection of common areas that many people leave unprotected. These include:
The sun’s rays can damage the eyes and surrounding skin over time. The skin of the upper and lower eyelids is thin and fragile, requiring protection. The best defence against this is to wear sunglasses that offer adequate protection against UVA and UVB.
Back of knees:
The legs are the commonest anatomical site for melanoma in females. It is important to reapply sunscreen regularly to achieve the SPF on the bottle, particularly if you are in and out of the water or sweating excessively.
Skin cancer on the ears is commoner in men than women. The ears are the third most common place on the body to develop basal cell carcinomas.
Tops of feet; sides of face; hands; underarms:
The same principles apply for all these areas of the body. Any areas of skin that are exposed to UV sunlight should ideally be protected by sunscreen. This should be broad spectrum, containing UVA and UVB protection, with an SPF of at least 30. Try not to miss any areas and leave your skin vulnerable to sunburn.
Scalp & hair:
Men, with reduced or thinning scalp hair may be particularly vulnerable to sun damage in this area and should ideally wear a hat. For women, ensure that sunscreen is applied adequately to the margin of the hairline.
The lower lip tends to get more sunlight than the upper lip, and is therefore more likely to be affected by skin cancer. Don’t forget to use a photo-protective lip block or lip balm to block UV rays.
The V (chest):
Dermatologists advise that sunscreens should be applied at least 30 minutes before going outdoors and then regularly reapplied every 2 hours. One way to avoid missing areas may be to apply sunscreen before getting dressed.
Skin should be protected with clothing. Wearing a hat will protect the face, neck and ears. Most importantly, spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm when it’s sunny. Always keep babies and young children out of direct sunlight.
A SELECTION OF HIGH-PROTECTION SUNSCREENS
(in alphabectical order)
Aldi Lacura SPF30 Clear Sun Spray
Ambre Solaire Light and Silky Sun Cream SPF 30
Avène Spray Broad Spectrum SPF 50+
Boots Soltan Protect & Moisturise lotion SPF 30
Clarins Sun Care Milk-Lotion Spray Very High Protection UVB/UVA 50+
Clinique SPF 30 Virtu-Oil™ Body Mist
Green People’s Sun Lotion SPF 30 Scent Free
Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Protective Sun Lotion SPF 50
La Roche Posay Anthelios Invisible Anti-Shine Mist
Ladival Sun Protection Lotion SPF50+
Lancaster Sun Beauty Velvet Milk SPF 30
Lidl Cien Sun Cream Sport SPF 30
Natura Bisse Dry Oil Anti-oxidant Sun Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 30
Nivea Sun Invisible Protect & Refresh Spray SPF 50
Piz Buin In Sun Moisturising Ultra Light Sun Spray SPF30
Shiseido Expert Sun Ageing Protection Lotion SPF50
Superdrug Solait Moisturising Sun Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF30
Zelens Defence Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30